USA series: Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan

It is a Tuesday morning and the end of the Labor Day long weekend in New York City.

Today we will walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (both ways). 

After we finish walking the iconic Brooklyn Bridge we will catch the train to Coney Island which was mostly known as a “seaside resort” for its beach, boardwalk and amusement rides.

8:00am
We need to make out way to the entrance of the pedestrian access for the Brooklyn Bridge on the Manhattan side.  To get there we head to our closest subway station to catch the line 1 train to Times Square station.  Once at Times Square station we change trains to catch the “R” line to City Hall station.

We exit the City Hall subway station and cut through the grounds of City Hall which brings us to the entrance to the bridge… ready to begin our bridge crossing!

The Brooklyn Bridge according to Wikipedia:

“The Brooklyn Bridge is a bridge in New York City and is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge.

 

Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name from an earlier January 25, 1867, letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an icon of New York City, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.”

11:30am
The walk across the bridge is easy, scenic, free and takes about 40 minutes (apparently according to Alex, because I was walking slowly). 

Brooklyn Bridge tower and pedestrian walkway

Brooklyn Bridge tower and pedestrian walkway

The bridge has a separate elevated walkway (made of timber treads) along the centerline for pedestrians and bicycles.  The walk across is popular… translation… fairly BUSY.

The pedestrian walkway cuts mid-height through the towers and below a level, on either side of the elevated walkway cars flow past.  Suprisingly, with not a car horn to be heard (shock horror!).

Approaching the first of its two towers, you can appreciate the architectural neo-Gothic style, with characteristic pointed arches, which form the passageways through the stone towers.

As you reach the base of the first central column of the granite towers, two plaques greet you.

The first plaque commemorates the erection of the Brooklyn Bridge while the other references the bridge’s reconstruction in 1954. 

Brooklyn Bridge plaques

Brooklyn Bridge plaques

Brooklyn Bridge tower looking up

Brooklyn Bridge tower

Brooklyn Bridge tower

Brooklyn Bridge constructed

Brooklyn Bridge constructed

Across to the side on the right is a further series of tablets depicting the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.  As you move further along the bridge and look back at Manhattan, the view expands and opens up, offering a great view.

View of Manhattan from pedestrian walkway

View of Manhattan from pedestrian walkway

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is fantastic

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is fantastic

Brooklyn Bridge panoramic

Brooklyn Bridge panoramic

 

East River from Brooklyn Bridge

East River from Brooklyn Bridge

Just a few signs

Just a few signs

As we reach the other side, having crossed above and over the East River we reach DUMBO (not a representation of its residents).  DUMBO is actually a neighbourhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn which sits in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Downtown DUMBO

Downtown DUMBO

Dumbo is an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.  Located in DUMBO are some cafes etc where we decide to stop for lunch.

We can recommend the short walk to Pearl Street and “Cafe Archway” for a sandwich and (proper) coffee.  Lunch for two sets us back USD$25.

With some onward directions provided by the friendly waitress at Cafe Archway, we make our way to the subway, line “F”, located on the corner of Jay Street and York Street.  This subway line will take us direct by train to Coney Island and should take about 30 minutes.

2:00pm
The train to Coney Island is virtually empty… could mean Coney Island is just a rubbish destination or are we just arriving after everybody else? 

Empty train to Coney Island

Empty train to Coney Island

I know there is a beach there and amusement parks so how bad can it be?

Coney Island according to Wikipedia:

“Coney Island is a residential neighborhood, peninsula and beach on the Atlantic Ocean in southwestern Brooklyn, New York City. The site was formerly an outer barrier island, but became partially connected to the mainland by landfill.

 

Coney Island is well known as the site of amusement parks and a seaside resort.  The attractions reached their peak during the first half of the 20th century, declining in popularity after World War II and years of neglect.

 

Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year.”

Or the not so flattering version according to Wikitravel:

“Coney Island. Ah, the famous Coney Island. The Cyclone, a 1927 roller coaster, is the most famous of the amusement park rides at Coney Island, for good reason: It packs a lot of thrill into a small lot. There is also a great view of Manhattan from the top of the Wonder Wheel (a large ferris wheel). Otherwise, the amusement park is somewhat seedy, which is part of its appeal. The high concentration of public housing projects in the area does make the neighborhood around the amusement park somewhat unsafe. Precaution should be taken if exploring these areas.”

Arriving at Coney Island subway station a sign directs us to the boardwalk… sounds good so we head that way.

The first thing we come across, sitting prominently on the opposite corner to the station is Nathan’s.  Nathan’s is a “famous” hot dog place.

"Nathan's Eamous"

“Nathan’s Eamous”

Hmmm…. I wonder how long until the next hot dog eating contest…

Nathan's ... the next eating contest

Nathan’s … the next eating contest

From Nathan’s the boardwalk and beach is directly down the street, with some of the tops of the amusement park rides like the Parachute Jump and the Wonder Wheel already visible.

On reaching the boardwalk I discover that the boardwalk is long, wide and hot… there is next to no shelter here which can be fatal for a white girl from Melbourne who burns at the mention of “sunshine”.

Coney Island panoramic

Coney Island panoramic

We wander along the boardwalk, I am looking for any scrap of shade and eventually find some relief at a refreshments stand.

Coney Island boardwalk

Coney Island boardwalk

Finally, the urge is too great and Alex gives in to the lure of the Wonder Wheel (opened way back in 1920). 

This ride sets us back USD$14 for two…mmm.  The price does give “Wonder” a whole new meaning.

Wonder Wheel ticket to ride

Wonder Wheel ticket to ride

The ride is pretty cool given its age.  While some cars/carriages are stationery, other cars/carriages rock and slide along a track, effectively moving within the wheel.

Coney Island Wonder Wheel

Coney Island Wonder Wheel

From the top of the Wonder Wheel we can actually see Manhattan.

View of Manhattan from the Wonder Wheel

View of Manhattan from the Wonder Wheel

With our inner child now fully released, we take the opportunity to just goof around.  We pay a dollar to get our fortune told by Zoltar and Alex wins a pug faced puppy (soft toy) when he pays US$2 to play a sideshow alley water pistol game.  Now I have to carry this soft toy around all day… great!

The rest of the hot afternoon is spent relaxing, sitting in a covered area overlooking the glorious stretch of beach.

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island Beach

5:00pm
We begin to make our way home and decide on an early dinner at “famous” Nathan’s hotdog place.  Opinion of Nathan’s famous hotdog… a perfectly acceptable but not sensational hotdog… sorry, although we do like their fat chips/fries.

From here we return to the subway station to get the “F” subway train back to DUMBO (York Station).

I have convinced Alex to stop back at DUMBO for a coffee before we walk back across the Brooklyn Bridge for a night vista of Manhattan.  We happen across the Brooklyn Roasting Company and stop for a coffee fix where Alex falls in love with their edgy warehouse interior.

7:24pm
From the Brooklyn Roasting Company we make our way towards the East River, to a green space, the Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Brooklyn Bridge Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park

This stretch of parkland sits between the Brooklyn Bridge and the (noisy) Manhattan Bridge.

Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge

The clock overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge says it is 25 degrees.  It is a beautiful night and this should be a great spot to watch the lights of manhattan come on.

Manhattan sunset

Manhattan sunset

As anticipated, as the sun descends and the lights come on, Brooklyn Bridge looks amazing. The Manhattan backdrop doesn’t hurt either.

Carousel under the Brooklyn Bridge

Carousel under the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge Park panoramic

8:30pm
We begin the return trip across the Brooklyn Bridge.  There are less people using the bridge at this time of night.  We still feel completely safe and, with less people, are able to enjoy the walk and the view more than this morning’s crossing.

We end our day of walking with a rewarding coffee and dessert at French Roast which is near our apartment on the Upper West Side.

We have seen the most number of “characters” today. The man on the train who we gave our spare muffin to; the man standing in the middle of the street at Coney Island with empty cup in hand and the lady on the street having a confusing conversation with herself.

It has been another long but excellent day to Coney Island via the Brooklyn Bridge.  It has also ironically been one our most relaxing days as we relaxed at Coney Island beach and while at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Tomorrow’s plan means another full day.  We will first explore Soho and Greenwich Village before going to our first broadway show.  We have tickets for tomorrow night’s performance of The Lion King.  Finally, tomorrow night we will finishing our evening at the observation deck of the Empire State Building.[showmyads]

For previous USA series post see Aircraft Carrier Intrepid and Metro Bus Tour of downtown Manhattan
For next USA series post stay tuned…